Dave Farrar predicts a second-string Juventus will fall to Palermo, Fiorentina to push past Milan and Sampdoria tough for draw specialists Roma...
“The Juve team that will take the field against Palermo won't resemble a Juve team, and certainly shouldn't be odds on to win the game.”
Palermo v Juventus
Live on BT Sport Extra
A professional punter friend of mine is fond of saying that team news is the one factor that gamblers most stupidly ignore when they're placing a bet on a football match. I can see where he's coming from, but also feel that the suspension/injury news angle is one that can often be overstated.
On early Saturday evening though, it may just be worth taking note of the fact that Juve play Dortmund in a key Champions League game next week, and are likely to rest a whole host of players for their dangerous trip to Palermo. Except that it's not really dangerous.
Juve have Serie A won, Roma's form dictates that as much as any Bianconeri brilliance, and they know that they can afford to take a risk at Renzo Barbera on Saturday. And that's what they're doing.
To start with, Paul Pogba (the match winner against Sassuolo last Monday) is suspended, and Andrea Pirlo won't be risked. That leaves an inexperienced line-up, potentially Stefano Sturaro and Paolo De Ceglie, and if you add the likely absences of Carlos Tevez, Giorgio Chiellini and even Gigi Buffon, then you'll have a clue about where I'm coming from.
The Juve team that will take the field against Palermo won't resemble a Juve team, and certainly shouldn't be odds on to win the game.
Palermo carry a serious threat, are very good at home and will smell a big scalp. They could torment a makeshift Juve backline and put their recent poor form in front of goal behind them.
Juve were poor last week against a Sassuolo team who offer a similar threat to Palermo, and this time there'll be no Pogba to save them. The Sicilians are an excellent bet at 4.84/1 to hand Juve's second string a "shock" defeat.
Recommended Bet: Back Palermo to beat Juventus @ 4.84/1
Fiorentina v Milan
Live on ESPN
Anyone who has seen Milan lately knows just how bad they are. I won't list the reasons as they have been well documented, both in this column and elsewhere, but with Fiorentina smarting after that collapse against Lazio last week, I expect La Viola to come into this highly motivated and desperate to win.
I know that they had a tough Europa League game on Thursday, and with another one to come they may not be at their best, but they won't need to be. Milan have deserved to lose to both Verona and Empoli lately, and even a second string/tired Fiorentina are a good deal better than both of those teams.
Milan have an oddly good record at the Artemio Franchi, not losing here since 2005, but they haven't won in 8 on the road and are sleepwalking into disaster.
Fiorentina should be nowhere near even money to beat them, and yet they are. Try and get 2.01/1 matched about the home win, failing that take the 1.9520/21 that's on offer.
Recommended Bet: Back Fiorentina to beat Milan @ 1.9520/21
Roma v Sampdoria
Live on BT Sport 1
It's a shame to see three such high-class games shoehorned into Monday evening, as all three deserve something approaching top billing, but Roma take their horrible form to the Olimpico in the late Monday game when they face Sampdoria.
There have been six red cards in the last seven meetings between these teams at this venue, and that's something to keep an eye on, but a better angle is simply to oppose Roma.
They have now drawn six home games in a row, and Samp seem to have rediscovered their form over the last two match days with Samuel Eto'o getting on the scoresheet too. Meanwhile, Daniele De Rossi is in doubt with Radja Nainggolan suspended.
With Roma having to recover from a difficult night on Thursday, and Samp having all week to prepare, I'm tempted to back Samp at 6.86/1. However, given the home team's propensity to draw games, will keep that outcome on my side here, and lay Roma at a price that is just too short.
Recommended Bet: Lay Roma against Sampdoria @ 1.75/7